Greater Port Arthur area getting ready for back to school

Published 1:03 pm Saturday, August 20, 2016

The start of the 2016 school year is right around the corner as kids get ready for the classroom and parents get ready to have less rambunctious youth around the house.

School districts for Port Arthur and the Mid-County area have already been preparing for the new school year, as the various school staff has held various orientation and faculty meetings in recent weeks.

The Port Arthur Independent School District starts classes on Monday, Aug 22. And while faculty, staff, and students may be ready for the date, it would appear that not all school campuses are quite as ready.

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A long-term construction project at Tyrrell Elementary School in Port Arthur has temporarily altered the way in which parents will drop off and pick up their children.

In a public correspondence issued from the PAISD, parents and guardians are told to “Be prepared for traffic delays. Be prepared for changes in the direction of traffic.

“New traffic signs have been posted and ALL traffic flows to the RIGHT around the school, located at 4401 Ferndale Dr.”

There will currently be one drop-off location at Tyrrell — the circular drive — and temporary afternoon pick-up from Aug 22 to Sep 2 from inside the classrooms. As the public correspondence states, inside pick-up “will be utilized during the year for inclement weather days and on days when construction affects other outside pickup areas.”

Still, Dr. Mark Porterie, superintendent for Port Arthur ISD, was optimistic for the 2016-2017 school year.

“We are currently ready. We’re ready and excited for our students to return on Monday,” he said in a voicemail.

Porterie was equally confident in PAISD faculty and their training.

“Our teachers have prepared all summer. We have had a wonderful two weeks of professional development and we are off to a great start.

“We’re wanting kids to come back and get started teaching for the [new] school year.”

In the PAISD Superintendent’s own words, “We’re looking forward to great things.”

For the Port Neches-Groves School District, superintendent Dr. Rodney Cavness expressed equal enthusiasm for the coming school year.

“We’re just excited to be back. We appreciate parents getting their kids ready to learn. Enrollment is steadily increasing, and I’m proud of all the work our teachers, staff, and workers have done.”

Cavness commented briefly on the challenges and goals for the coming school year, and how he’s confident that him and the school staff can meet them.

“Our parents and community members have extremely high expectations for this place [and] we have stuff in place to meet those expectations…

“Our goal is to show continuous improvement. We’re very proud of our teachers, and our kids continue to improve.”

Classes start back on Tuesday, Aug 23 for the Port Neches and Groves school districts.

Classes for Nederland schools begin Mon, Aug 22.

When it comes to safety, though, every school district can benefit from increased awareness from its drivers and students.

“They need to be aware of our traffic rules,” said Rickey Antoine, traffic enforcement officer for the Port Arthur Police Department. “People should be aware of school buses — of school buses stopping, loading, and unloading our children.”

Antoine made special mention of drivers being mindful of the instances when school buses have their stop signs out for the children departing from the vehicle.

“There’s a general consensus of obedience, but we still have times where the school bus drivers call us [and tell us] that people aren’t stopping like they should.”

“We aren’t where we need to be,” Antoine said in regards to ideal traffic observances.

Still, the PAPD officer had some words of wisdom for parents and students on the first day of school.

“It is advisable to leave earlier than expected on the first day,” Antoine said. “People need to be prepared to leave earlier than they normally do because of the unexpected traffic and confusion that accompanies the first week of school.

“People have to be patient and expect delays.”

Finally, Antoine stated that cell phone use is prohibited in a school zone; it has to be hands free if someone is going to use it at all.

“We ask that people please be mindful of the laws because we just want people to get home safely.”